light into ashes
July 30, 2008 01:20:49am
Clementine, along with several other new tunes, debuted on the Dead's Northwest tour of early '68, which they were recording for the Anthem album.....however, it never appeared on that album, nor on Aoxomoxoa, though it would have fit in well on either record. The Dead apparently weren't too happy with it and seem not to have played it very often.
In its shuffling jazzy two-chord rhythm, it's very similar to the Quicksilver Messenger Service instrumental Gold & Silver -- I think QMS were playing that in '67 (could be wrong), so they may have influenced the Dead in this tune. (Which may be another reason the Dead never released it.) The jazz feel didn't really resurface in a Dead song until Eyes of the World a few years later.
The first recording on 1/20/68 fades in (probably out of a missing Cryptical), and it's given the full '68 treatment, especially with washes of organ from Pigpen. Along with other recent tunes like the Other One suite and New Potato, they get the verses over with quickly and then spend a few minutes wandering in a jam before dissolving into the next song. I'm sure audiences at this tour couldn't tell where one song ended and another began, since nothing would be familiar to them! http://www.archive.org/details/gd68-01-20.sbd.jools.19470.sbe-fixed.shnf
We have a couple more performances from this tour, on 1/23 and 2/2, which are similar but longer, with less Pigpen. In each case Clementine comes out of Cryptical, a nice transition in which it starts quietly; and on 1/20 and 1/23 it shifts into New Potato Caboose, which also works well. (On 2/2 they abruptly switch to Schoolgirl instead.) In the Cryptical>Clementine>Caboose medley, the style of jamming is very similar in each song, so it's almost like one long extended composition. (In contrast, the Dark Star>China Cat>Eleven medley sounds more like what it is, three tunes jammed together.) After they dropped Clementine, they kept the Cryptical>Caboose segue which flowed very smoothly. http://www.archive.org/details/gd68-01-23.sbd.jools.20347.sbeok.shnf http://www.archive.org/details/gd68-02-02.sbd.jools.15801.sbeok.shnf
(The 2/2 version was included on the So Many Roads box.)
They may have played it on other shows of this tour, but too many tapes are missing to say for sure. It is perhaps the least-played song of the tour though, which shows that they may already have been unsure of it and perhaps decided it wasn't good for the record. I'd guess they kept playing it throughout '68; since so few shows were recorded, we only have a few brief snapshots from that year.
Clementine did resurface a few times, though....in a studio jam from 8/13/68 which was a bonus on the Anthem of the Sun CD reissue, they play Clementine for a while. They were starting to record the Aoxomoxoa album and were perhaps trying out ideas. This is an especially nice recording, with Garcia "singing" the melody lines on his guitar; it resembles Santana's style!
Clementine popped up in the studio again on 9/21/68, when Garcia & Lesh jammed on it briefly. There's another guitarist, and it's odd to hear Garcia dueting the lines with someone besides Weir; it makes it sound like one of the club-blues jams that were very common in '68. http://www.dead.net/features/tapers-section/september-17-september-23-2007-0
Which brings us to one of those clubs, the Matrix, and the Hartbeats' appearance there on 10/8/68, minus Weir and Pigpen. They start the show with Clementine (after Garcia sorts out some amp trouble), and it's basically a duet between Garcia and Lesh....kind of interesting, but with Weir gone, there's a huge hole in the sound. It takes them a while to get going, and things get more interesting after they turn into the Eleven. (Also in my opinion, this is the least interesting Hartbeats show, with Clementine pretty much just a warmup.) http://www.archive.org/details/gd68-10-08.sbd.belaff.17691.sbeok.shnf
Clementine then makes an unexpected 1969 appearance (kind of like Rosemary's sole surprise showing on 12/7/68)....again being recorded for a possible live album, on 1/26/69 they start with the Cryptical suite, which in the other shows of this tour could segue into any other tune, but suddenly they have a '68 flashback and go into a slower-paced Clementine. It's quite different from the early '68 versions, they've worked on it some more: Tom Constanten's playing is very different from Pigpen's and he gives it that baroque-'69 flavor. They've also added some chords and new sections, and heightened the dynamics of the song; there's one wonderful solo section where Garcia swells up one note at a time. Although he's a little uncertain about the verses, the song abruptly transforms midway into a marvelous jam, like starting a new theme though keeping the two-chord waltz structure, and for a few minutes it's like being in the middle of a '69 Dark Star. http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-01-26.sbd.kaplan.2246.sbeok.shnf
It seems like if they'd kept playing Clementine, it could have become one of the highlights of the 1969 shows; but just as with New Potato Caboose, they felt done with it, and it was never heard again.